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Old 07-12-2013, 12:39 PM   #1
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Default Is it easy to contaminate the beer while transferring to a secondary fermenter?

I am planning to transfer my beer to a secondary fermenter for dry-hopping after a week (and to avoid yeast flavour from the yeast sediment).

I am wondering if it is relatively easy to contaminate the beer somehow during the process?
I'll obvoiusly sanitize everything that comes into contact with the beer.

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Old 07-12-2013, 12:47 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elysium View Post
I am planning to transfer my beer to a secondary fermenter for dry-hopping after a week (and to avoid yeast flavour from the yeast sediment).

I am wondering if it is relatively easy to contaminate the beer somehow during the process?
I'll obvoiusly sanitize everything that comes into contact with the beer.
Contaminate, as in a bacterial contamination or whatnot, no not really. Just be sure your beer is done fermenting. At this point there isn't a whole lot that bacteria or wild yeast have to feed on. Still be sure to use good sanitation practices.

Oxidation is going to be your big enemy when going to secondary. For that reason a lot of folks (me included) advise against a secondary altogether.
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Old 07-12-2013, 12:48 PM   #3
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The anti- secondary people think so, but I have never had that problem. I clean,then sanitize everything. I then flush secondary with a little co2 and it has always worked fine. I hope that helps.

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Old 07-12-2013, 01:26 PM   #4
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(and to avoid yeast flavour from the yeast sediment).
In my experience, a secondary doesn't help with this. Yeast will flocculate and fall out of the beer just as fast in a primary as in a secondary. I'm not sure why people think moving the beer from one container to another identical container will somehow make yeast fall out of the beer faster. The only ways I know of to clear a beer faster is with cold crashing or finings (or filtering I guess, but that's kind of a different concept).

EDIT: If you were talking about autolysis, that's pretty much never a concern on the homebrew scale. Usually only happens to big commercial fermenters because of the intense pressures on the yeast cone at the bottom of big conical fermenters.
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Old 07-12-2013, 01:41 PM   #5
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Never ever have I had a problem doing secondary, just sanitise your racking cane, siphon tubing or whatever your using, and go for it...........

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Old 07-12-2013, 01:47 PM   #6
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If you follow proper sanitation, it's actually fairly difficult to contaminate, and oxygenation isn't much of an issue. Unless you're planning on aging for a long period of time with a lot of headspace, then both of these can become an issue, but for dry hopping, you're fine. As Peter said, you can leave the beer on the yeast for a pretty long time, and it won't have any noticeable effect. You do want to make sure fermentation has been completed for at least a day or two, since the yeast will clean up some of the byproducts they produced during fermentation. So, even though fermentation is complete, the yeast continue working for a little while.

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Old 07-12-2013, 01:51 PM   #7
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Oh yeah, I forgot to mention in my "rant" that as long as you sanitize and are mindful of oxidation then transferring will not usually cause any problems. There's just no real benefit in my opinion.

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Old 07-12-2013, 02:03 PM   #8
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Yeah - it is relatively easy to contaminate your beer....... but it is also relatively easy to avoid doing so with good sanitation processes.

The bigger issue would be oxygen (as mentioned) and making sure you are not racking off the yeast too soon... as opposed to worrying about leaving it on the yeast too long - unless it is sitting in that primary for "months" you are not getting into the realm of picking up bad flavors from the yeast. In fact, you are more likely to get better flavor because the yeast has more time to do its work.

The only compelling (although arguable) benefit to transferring to secondary for a "normal" beer seems to be it potentially allows more trub, yeast and hop particles to drop out before bottling/kegging..... and, even that can be a bit debatable.

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Old 07-12-2013, 03:24 PM   #9
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Your 100x more likely to contaminate the starter.
20x more likely to contaminate the primary ferment.

How's that? I am just guessing btw.

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Old 07-12-2013, 04:36 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by firerat View Post
Contaminate, as in a bacterial contamination or whatnot, no not really. Just be sure your beer is done fermenting. At this point there isn't a whole lot that bacteria or wild yeast have to feed on. Still be sure to use good sanitation practices.

Oxidation is going to be your big enemy when going to secondary. For that reason a lot of folks (me included) advise against a secondary altogether.
I agree, oxydation is probably your bigges worry, along with oxygen in the headspace that could allow mold to grow. Usually, before I transfer to a carboy, after it's cleaned and sanitized, I usually put my cleaned and sanitized racking cane in the carboy and push CO2 through it to purge the bottle of oxygen. Then I go ahead and rack the beer into it. Probably not 100% perfect, but it at least gives me the sense of security that my beer isn't touching oxygen. I keg though, and have an extra tap on my distributor that I use for this purpose.

I agree with most though who don't believe it's necessary to ever go to secondary. I just do because I like fermenting in buckets and I prefer to free those up when I have an IPA that needs dry hopping. Especially if i don't have an open keg yet.
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